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Santa Barbara Film

Santa Barbara, the Original Hollywood

A longtime artistic haven with a deep-rooted Hollywood history, Santa Barbara has been known as a picture perfect destination for film production since the early 1900s. It's a little known fact that Santa Barbara was the original "Hollywood." California's first major movie studio, Flying A Studios, started in Santa Barbara in 1910 and produced hundreds of silent films here in the early 1920s.  Today, visitors can still catch film crews at work and step into scenes from their favorite movies.

Day One

Morning

Pan the city from atop the 80-foot clock tower at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse to survey Santa Barbara's signature red-tile roofs. Built in Spanish-Moorish Revival style, the courthouse itself has provided the backdrop for countless fashion shoots and was used in Steal Big, Steal Little (1995). Continue on to Mission Santa Barbara, which Classic-film buffs will recognize the mission from Sunset Boulevard (1950); younger audiences will recall scenes from Cruel Intentions III (2004).

Mid-day

Head to State Street, downtown's friendly main drag where the red-brick sidewalks echo the red-tile roofs, and the old-fashioned gas lamps, tall trees, and wrought-iron balconies provide a perfect space for shooting a movie. Suspense thriller buffs who saw The Pelican Brief (1993) will remember the scene beneath the State Street Clock, at the corner of Haley Street. State Street also plays a part in Steal Big, Steal Little and Cutter's Way (1981). At its southern end, State Street gives way to Stearns Wharf, a wooden pier with restaurants and snack and souvenir shops that appeared in A Date with Judy (1948) and My Favorite Martian (1999). Stroll west to the harbor and stop for lunch at Endless Summer Bar-Café to see oodles of collector's items associated with the famous surfing movie of the same name (1966).

Afternoon & Evening

Spend the afternoon rubbing shoulders with local celebs while window-shopping on chic Coast Village Road in Montecito, home to a multitude of stars including Oprah, Steve Martin, and Ivan Reitman. Film goers have seen Montecito's mini palazzos in Scarface (1983), Bedazzled (2000), Monster-in-Law (2005), and Steal Big, Steal Little. Then enjoy a gorgeous sunset from the Veneco Pier, seen in The Two Jakes (1990). Notice the oil rigs on the horizon, which achieved minor celebrity in films like Flight of the Phoenix (2004) and Face/Off (1997). After dinner, take in a film at the Arlington Theater, the grand 1931 Fox movie palace where stars walk the red carpet on opening-night premieres (including the premiere of Sideways). Above the projection room look for the balcony of the former Club Chico, the now closed bar where Depression-era celebs hobnobbed while avoiding the hoi polloi in the lobby.

Day Two

Morning

Set out on a Sideways Tour linking the locations of Alexander Payne's 2004 Academy Award®-winning film. Begin with breakfast at the Solvang Restaurant where Miles and Jack have a declaratory breakfast and Jack later nurses his wounds. Then cruise Santa Rosa Road, where Miles and Jack drive the red Saab convertible through the vineyards.

Mid-day

Continue to Sanford Winery where Miles teaches Jack the basics of wine tasting. See real-life pourer Chris Burroughs who starts them off with the Vin Gris in which Miles smells citrus, strawberry, the faintest soupçon of asparagus and just a flutter of a nutty edam cheese. Next, lunch at Hitching Post II, where Miles and Jack share a bottle of Highliner at the bar, have dinner, and talk to Maya who waits tables there. Resume the tasting at Fess Parker Winery, which stars as Frass Canyon, the sight of Miles' spit bucket guzzling tantrum.

Afternoon & Evening

Take a romantic walk through the Barrel Room at Firestone Winery just as Miles, Jack, Maya and Stephanie share. Follow this with dinner at Los Olivos Café & Wine Merchant where the couples enjoy dinner and several exquisite bottles of wine.

Day Three 

Morning

Journey to the Guadalupe Dunes, an 18-mile-long, dune complex that has served as an arid backdrop in scores of movies, including Hidalgo (2004), G.I. Jane (1997) and Morocco (1930) with Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich. The dunes' most famous role was in the original 1923 Ten Commandments. The enormous sets Cecil B. Demille had constructed for this silent film remain buried in the 22,000 acres of shifting sands and have become known as the Lost City of DeMille. The Dunes Center has recovered pieces on display as well as information on the excavation project.

Mid-day

If you are a fan of The Odd Couple's Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, then you will want to spend more time in Guadalupe.  A mellow main street in this tiny town served as a climactic stop in The Odd Couple II, and if you stop at the classic Old West steakhouse Far Western Tavern, you may recognize the red-flocked wallpaper, trophy heads and dark antique bar used in the film as well.  In 1987 the two stars cut the ribbon during the reopening ceremony of the old-fashioned Royal Theater.

Afternoon & Evening

Explore the beautiful chapel at La Purisma Mission, used for the wedding scene of Charles Howard in Seabiscuit (2003), a film that also showcased local ranch lands. Just south of the town of Lompoc, see the location of scenes from A Walk in the Clouds (1995) and take in jaw-dropping views along Jalama Road, which twists and turns over the Santa Ynez Mountains, topping out at 1105 feet before descending to Jalama Beach.

Seasonal Events & Additional Things To Do

Jan:         
Latino CineMedia Festival celebrates the creative vision of Latino and Native American filmmakers, in partnership with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Feb:        
Digital Days showcases high Definition screenings, seminars, workshops, tools, renowned speakers, & teen filmmakers.  

Santa Barbara International Film Festival includes galas, panels, post-film discussions, and world premieres attended by world-wide film-makers & celebrities.

Santa Barbara African Heritage Film Series features thought-provoking movies, Kidz Films, documentaries, & post-film discussions.

Mar: 
Best of Banff Film Festival screens cultural and adventure short films.

May:       
International Student Film Festival honors student Animation, Comedy, Documentary, Drama, and Sports films.

Reel Loud Film Festival is a collection of Silent shorts made by UCSB students set to live music.

Santa Barbara Ocean Film Festival offers international films highlighting the ocean's beauty, water adrenaline sports, and issues of marine conservation.

Sept: 
Cinema Italiano screens contemporary Italian film.

Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival & Tech Symposium is a Digital Synthesis Technical Symposium.

Oct:        
Underwater Film Festival puts on a sell-out event featuring world-class photographers and filmmakers.

Nov:       
OUTrageous is the Santa Barbara Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans-gender Film Festival.      

For more information on film-related activities and to receive your free Lonely Planet Film Guide, contact the Sales Department at:
Visit Santa Barbara and Film Commission
p:  805.966.9222
GroupSales@SantaBarbaraCA.com


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